The wild tale of the NYC restaurant scene told through the eyes of a veteran of the service industry.
YOUR TABLE IS READY: TALES OF A NEW YORK CITY MAITRE D'
by Michael Cecchi-Azzolina
"I am just a piece in the show... This industry is composed of misfits and losers, artists, drunks, unbelievable beauties, downtrodden addicts, and some of the greediest and most narcissistic people you will ever meet all countered balanced with the most generous, loving, hardworking, and creative people on the planet."
Your Table is Ready is almost an amazing book, but it lacks clarity in storytelling. If you were to ask what the book is about, the reader would have a hard time articulating a succinct narrative. The overall storyline is disjointed, with the timeline of events shifting in such a way that you aren't really sure if the story is linear or stream of consciousness. There are plot points that were picked up, only never to be revisited. Major life events, such as addiction, children, marriage, etc., are breezed by, leaving you scratching your head as to why they were added in at all. Other parts are told with such detail and pizzazz that they elicited raucous laughter from me. There are stories with an incredulous air as only wild tales of the 70s and 80s can have for those who didn't live through them. (And I didn't.)
Michael Cecchi-Azzolina is clearly a relic of a bygone era, and the language in this book reflects that. There are slurs, and f-words abound, so consider yourself warned. For me, it makes the book atmospheric, indicative of the time. For others, the language will be downright offensive, and I suspect it will take them out of the book and have them relegate it to a DNF pile. But what makes the book disjointed is also part of its charm. It feels like a conversation (albeit one-sided) with a patron that you might meet in one of the very bars and restaurants he talks about. Regaling you with the good old days of service, peppered with strong opinions on how everything now has gone to crap.
While Cecchi-Azzolina's story is rough around the edges, one thing that truly shines through is how much he cared (and still cares) about the restaurant industry and its people. Every chance he gets, he reminds the reader of the diligence, drudgery, and dedication it takes to day in a day out serve the public. Especially when a goodly portion of people believe the profession and the people doing it are beneath them. He humanizes the positions in a way that so many overlook if you have never worked in food service. And if for no other reason, that makes this worth the read, or in my case, the listen.
Would you read this autobiography of a career service worker? Comment Below!
An advance copy of this audiobook was given by NetGalley for free in exchange for an honest and fair review